Browns legend Joe Thomas retires

Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns

(Cleveland) - Browns star left tackle Joe  Thomas has retired after 11 seasons in the NFL, ending a career in which  he exemplified durability, dependability and dominance.

A  10-time Pro Bowler, Thomas announced his decision Wednesday after  spending several months contemplating whether to come back following a  season-ending injury.

Thomas never missed a snap  before tearing his left triceps during an Oct. 22 game against  Tennessee. His streak of 10,363 consecutive plays is believed to be the  longest run in pro football history.

"This was an  extremely difficult decision, but the right one for me and my family,"  Thomas said. "Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on my body and I can  no longer physically compete at the level I need to."

Thomas  was selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in 2007 out of  Wisconsin, and the gregarious 6-foot-6, 310-pounder became the best  player in Cleveland's expansion era.

"From  the moment I was drafted, the city embraced me in a way that I could  never fully describe," Thomas said. "I am proud to call Cleveland home.  The loyalty and passion of Browns fans is unmatched and it was an honor  to play in front of them from the past 11 years.

"I  would like to thank all of the coaches, teammates, staff, fans and  everyone who has shown me support throughout my career. Even though I  will be hanging up my cleats, I will always be a Cleveland Brown."

Thomas  is just one of five players — and the only offensive lineman — to be  selected to the Pro Bowl in his first 10 seasons. The other four players  are Hall of Famers.

"Joe  has been a pillar of our organization and one of the greatest to put on  a Cleveland Browns uniform," said owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.

"We  want to thank him for everything he has done for the Browns and the  Northeast Ohio community. We should all strive for the standard Joe has  set to always be available, put the team above yourself and always give  maximum effort.

"One of the first ways we will  acknowledge and honor his accomplishments is to enshrine the number  10,363 to recognize his consecutive snaps streak in the team's Ring of  Honor at a home game this season. It also won't be long before he takes  his rightful place down the road in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of  Fame."

(Photos by Getty Images) 

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